Corvette wins car of year award, Kia Telluride takes top SUV

Corvette executive chief engineer Tadge Juechter celebrates after the sports car was named the North American Car of the Year in Detroit on Monday. Paul Sancya/AP

China off US currency black list

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is dropping its designation of China as a currency manipulator in advance of the signing Wednesday of a Phase 1 U.S.-China trade agreement.

The preliminary pact that the two sides are set to sign includes a section that's intended to prevent China from manipulating its currency to gain trade advantages.

The action announced Monday comes five months after the Trump administration had branded China a currency manipulator — the first time that any country had been so named since 1994 during the Clinton administration.

Even while removing China from its black list, the Treasury Department does name China as one of 10 countries it says require placement on a watch list that will mean their practices will be closely monitored. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration had dropped China's designation as a currency manipulator because of commitments in the Phase 1 trade agreement that President Donald Trump is to sign with China on Wednesday at the White House.

"China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability," Mnuchin said in a statement accompanying the current report.

Corvette wins car of year award

DETROIT — The new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette won the North American Car of the Year award on Monday.

The Kia Telluride took Sport Utility of the Year honors and the Jeep Gladiator won the Truck of the Year Award.

About 50 automotive journalists serve as judges, for the awards, which are announced every January.

They're chosen from dozens of candidates and must be new or substantially changed. Automakers often use the awards in advertising.

The judges evaluate finalists on value, innovation, design, performance, safety, technology and driver satisfaction. The selection process started last summer.

Car finalists included the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Supra.

Truck finalists were the heavy-duty Ram pickup and Ford Ranger. The Lincoln Aviator and Hyundai Palisade joined were finalists for the utility award.

Aerospace, defense firms to merge

NEW YORK — Woodward Inc. and Hexcel are merging in an all-stock deal that would create one of the largest suppliers in the aerospace and defense industry.

The companies say the tie-up will allow them to create more efficient aircraft that will reduce emissions, a big hurdle for the aerospace industry.

The new company, called Woodward Hexcel, will generate more than $5 billion in annual sales and more than 16,000 employees. Woodward Hexcel will have manufacturing operations in 14 countries on five continents. 

Existing Woodward shareholders will own about 55 percent of the combined company.

The combined business will be based in Fort Collins, Colo., where Woodward has its headquarters. Hexcel is based in Stamford, Conn.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. It still needs approval from the shareholders of both companies, as well as the required regulatory approvals.

Woodward has a plant in Greenville. Hexcel has no operations in South Carolina.

China car sales fall again in 2019

BEIJING — China's auto sales fell for a second year in 2019 as a trade war with Washington and an economic slowdown fueled consumer anxiety and demand for electric vehicles weakened, an industry group reported Monday.

Sales in the industry's biggest global market declined 9.6 percent from 2018 levels to 21.4 million sedans, SUVs and minivans, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The downturn is squeezing global and Chinese automakers at a time when they are spending billions of dollars to meet government targets to sell electric vehicles.

After two decades of explosive growth, China suffered its first annual decline in auto sales in 2018 as unease over the tariff war with President Donald Trump and slowing economic growth prompted consumers to put off big purchases.

Sales in December were off 0.1 percent from a year earlier, CAAM said. That would be an improvement over double-digit declines in previous months. The group gave no December sales total, but based on other data given it would be about 2.2 million vehicles.

Sales of electric and gasoline-electric hybrid sedans and SUVs in 2019 sank 4 percent over a year earlier to 1.2 million. That would still make China the technology's biggest market by far, accounting for at least half of global purchases.


Free Windows 7 updates set to end

NEW YORK — Microsoft Corp. will stop providing free security updates for Windows 7the system on Tuesday, meaning computers using it will be more vulnerable to malware and hacking.

Users who want to protect their computers need to upgrade to Windows 10. They may also need to buy new computers because older machines might not be compatible with Windows 10.

Tech companies typically phase out older systems after a number of years and focus efforts on updating current versions of software. Windows 7 came out in 2009. Windows 8, which came out in 2012, will have free support end in 2023.

Windows 10 starts at $139 for a basic, "Home" version. Microsoft charges $200 for a "Pro" version meant for businesses and individuals who need its advance features. Windows 10 comes with regular free updates for security and additional features. Although Windows 10 isn't likely to be phased out anytime soon, older versions will require those updates to keep working.

Microsoft is also ending support Tuesday for Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 operating systems.

Del. court won't revive Uber suit

DOVER, Del. — Delaware's Supreme Court has upheld a judge's dismissal of a shareholder lawsuit against ride-hailing company Uber and its former CEO.

The court on Monday affirmed the judge's April ruling that the suit must be dismissed because the shareholder had failed to demand that Uber's board take action itself before he filed his complaint.

The lawsuit challenged the Uber board's approval in 2016 of former CEO Travis Kalanick's plan to pay $680 million for a startup company created by former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski to develop self-driving cars.

Levandowski was indicted in August by a federal grand jury in California on charges of stealing self-driving car technology from Google spinoff Waymo before joining forces with Uber. His lawyers have maintained his innocence.

Wire reports